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Lean Problems

Why Not Dream Big?

As I was driving the other day, a license plate frame caught my eye. It said something like “I’m driving my silver dream.” The car was nice – a Japanese import that probably ran about $20K new, but has been out of production now for several years.

As I sat behind this car at a red light, I realized that there were two ways to interpret the ’silver dream.’ The first is that the driver set his sights on something he wanted to attain, and presumably worked hard to achieve that goal. The ability to establish an objective and steadily work towards an end result is an admirable character trait.

But, the other way to look at it is that he sold himself short.

If this guy was going to dream, why not dream bigger? Why not shoot for a high end convertible, or an Italian model that would throw chunks of pavement up whenever he hit the gas? On closer examination, it seems that instead of dreaming, he set a realistic, achievable goal.

Although his approach was reasonable and there is nothing inherently wrong with it, it made me wonder what he could have achieved if he approached his life or his job with the mentality that he could not fail.

This is one of the biggest of the Lean problems I have faced. I have led many kaizens throughout the years. More times than I care to count, at the beginning of the project, continuous improvement team members would waste time and energy telling each other how various ideas would not work. They frequently would hold themselves back, simply by their belief that something could not be done.

And more often than not, at the end of the project they were pleasantly surprised by achieving something that they never thought possible. Now, think about this in terms of your job satisfaction in a Lean environment. Do you apply continuous improvement to how you feel about your job? Do you settle for the status quo and think that this is the best it is ever going to be? Or do you think that tomorrow will be better than today, and the next day will be even better?

If you are feeling overworked and under appreciated and you experiencing chronic stress and frustration, ask yourself this: What if it is not circumstances at work that are holding you back? What if your Lean problems are internal? Why not set your sites just a little big higher and see what happens in your life? 


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